Acne is a skin condition which has plugged pores (blackheads and whiteheads), inflamed pimples (pustules), and deeper lumps (nodules). Acne occurs on the face, as well as the neck, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms. Although most teenagers get some form of acne, adults in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, or even older, can develop acne. Often, acne clears up after several years, even without treatment. Acne can be disfiguring and upsetting to the patient. Untreated acne can leave permanent scars; these may be treated by your dermatologist in the future. To avoid acne scarring, treating acne is important.
Types of Acne and How Acne Forms
Acne is not caused by dirt. Testosterone, a hormone which is present in both males and females, increases during adolescence (puberty). It stimulates the sebaceous glands of the skin to enlarge, produce oil, and plug the pores. Whiteheads (closed comedones), blackheads (open comedones), and pimples (pustules) are present in teenage acne.
Early acne that occurs before the first period and is called prepubertal acne. When acne is severe and forms deep “pus-filled” lumps, it is called cystic acne. This may be more common in males.
Adult acne develops later in life and may be related to hormones, childbirth, menopause, or stopping the pill. Adult women may be treated at ovulation when acne is especially severe, or throughout their entire menstrual cycle. Adult acne is not rosacea, a disease in which blackheads and whiteheads do not occur.
Acne has nothing to do with not washing your face. However, it is best to wash your face with a mild cleanser and warm water daily. Washing too often or too vigorously may actually make your acne worse.
Acne is not caused by foods. However, if certain foods seem to make your acne worse, try to avoid them.
Wear as little cosmetics as possible. Oil-free, water-based moisturizers and make-up should be used. Choose products that are “non-comedogenic” (should not cause whiteheads or blackheads) or “non-acnegenic” (should not cause acne). Remove your cosmetics every night with mild soap or gentle cleanser and water.
A flesh-tinted acne lotion containing acne medications can safely hide blemishes. Loose powder in combination with an oil-free foundation is also good for cover-up.
Shield your face when applying sprays and gels on your hair.
Proper Care is Necessary
No matter what special treatments your dermatologist may use, remember that you must continue proper skin care. Acne is not curable, but it is controllable; proper treatment helps you to feel and look better and may prevent scars.
To learn more about acne and acne treatments see your dermatologist or log onto www.aad.org